Material World?

On an instinctive and intuitive level we know we are multi- dimensional beings.

As Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist points out,

…the fundamental constituent elements of our own reality are not material. They’re emotional, they’re motivational, they’re dreams, they’re visions they’re relationships with other people, they’re conscious, they’re dependent on consciousness and self-consciousness. (1)

In modern times, it can be a contentious viewpoint to see human beings as being not just material. Especially if this view of the human being is taken to include a spiritual dimension.

This is, no doubt, the result of the very real issues surrounding religion. However, as the twentieth century has shown, just as much damage has been done in countries where religion was outlawed as in countries where religion was enforced. Alexandr Solzhenitsyn describes this phenomenon as a problem of ideology and describes it thus,

Ideology – that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.  That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes, so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honours…the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills; by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers by civilization; the Nazis by race; and the Jacobins (early and late) by equality, brotherhood and the happiness of future generations.

Thanks to ideology, the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing on a scale calculated in the millions.  (2)

People are most definitely more than simply material beings – even amongst people who don’t practise any religion there is still broad agreement about the existence in human beings of a transcendent faculty.  As Danah Zohar describes it,

The transcendant gives us a taste of the extraordinary, the infinite, within ourselves or within the world around us.  Many who experience the transcendent call it ‘God’; some say they have a mystical experience; others sense it through the beauty of a flower, a child’s smile, a piece of music. (3)

We need to use all of our faculties if we are to make balanced and healthy decisions and choices.  Ironically, our spiritual or transcendant dimension is the very part of our nature we need in order not to become consumed by the excuse of misapplied ideology.

It’s important not to lose touch with it.


(1) Jordan Peterson, Virtue as a Necessity –

(2) Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, p. 174

(3) Danah Zohar, Spiritual Intelligence, p. 69

3 comments on “Material World?

  1. nrhatch says:

    Good reminder:

    We are NOT a human beings having an spiritual experience.
    We are spirits . . . having a human experience.

  2. Nice way of describing it, Nancy.

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